The President of the United States has two jobs: he is the head of government and the head of state. In British terms, he must do the jobs of both the Prime Minister and the Queen. The Queen sprinkles pixie dust; the Prime Minister does the dirty work of legislative sausage making. Presidents (like Ronald Reagan and FDR) succeed when they fill the job of head of state so well that they accumulate political authority which they can then use to run the government. The pixie dust they sprinkle makes the sausage look good. Presidents who fail to establish themselves as national leaders and symbols (like Jimmy Carter) end by losing their political authority as well.I posted that "Progress" image by Shepard Fairey for a reason. His art worked for Obama's campaign in 2008. Well there is the more common "Hope" message as opposed to "Progess", but something was promised then. Many American's aren't seeing a whole lot of progress from that unfortunately despite the promises of an Obama presidency.
President Obama started off with great advantages in the pixie dust department. As the first African-American president, he embodies important American qualities simply by being himself. Young, energetic, blessed with a stylish wife and a vibrant family, he holds Kennedy-class cards when it comes to touching enduring American themes and ideals. He was (and can still be) an ideal representative of America to itself and to the world, a symbol of hope for national and global reconciliation and renewal.
But the President has failed to meld that image and the symbolic weight of his office to a compelling policy vision. He takes strong individual stands — from support for health care reform to the bombing of Libya — but between the moves and the counter moves, the rhetorical claims and the policy reversals, the President’s image has become fuzzy and perplexing. Did he abandon the concept of stimulus and cast himself as a deficit cutter because he believes it, or was the shift a tactical calculation? What does he really believe will get the economy going again?
In particular, he has said nothing memorable about the crisis that is shaking the global economy and undermining the American middle class. The meltdown of the blue social model is the great and inescapable fact of our time. In what many voters will feel as a sign of financial apocalypse, the AARP has dropped its opposition to cuts in Social Security benefits. At home, Democrats like Andrew Cuomo and Jerry Brown are slashing budgets and attacking the perks of public sector labor unions almost as industriously as Republicans like Scott Walker and Mitch Daniels. Abroad, Socialists like Greek Premier George Papandreou is cutting as hard as the Conservative David Cameron. Germany has passed a balanced budget amendment; France is debating its own version. Economic turmoil is shaking the political foundations; rising food prices helped set off the Arab Spring, the price of gold has gone through the roof, and China and other foreign creditors are increasingly skeptical about the long term value of their dollar-backed assets.
President Obama’s predecessor made many mistakes, but something is at work here that is much bigger than the faults of the Bush administration. It is not just a US domestic problem, because we see it in the more-regulated European countries as well as in the less-regulated US.
Well if the GOP fails to offer a solid message and candidate for 2012, what will make Obama's message and candidacy solid?